The cola war between Coke and Pepsi is extending to the IPL turf, with Coca Cola replacing rival PepsiCo as sponsors of Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab in the fourth season of the T20 league. With the new tie-ups, Coca Cola will be sponsoring five out of the ten IPL teams ready for the cricket battle between April 8 and May 28. Coca Cola that has been associated with Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous seasons, said it will also become the sponsor of Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab.

According to industry sources, the company will spend about Rs 50 crore during the tournament to promote its brands across media platforms.

“We have extended our association with IPL by partnering with three new teams. The teams that we are sponsoring belong to markets that are very important for Coca Cola,” Coca Cola India Director Marketing Wasim Basir said.

Commenting on the teams that were earlier associated with rival PepsiCo, Basir said: “The teams were available and we wanted to associate with them.”

Interestingly, Coca Cola has recently announced Sachin Tendulkar has its ‘Happiness Ambassador’.

Tendulkar who is the captain for Mumbai Indians was dropped by PepsiCo in 2008 as the brand ambassador after the company started focussing on younger brand ambassadors for its ‘Youngistaan’ campaign.

It would be also interesting to recall that Coca Cola had teamed up Kolkata Knight Riders which is co-owned by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan after he was also dropped by PepsiCo for similar reasons.

PepsiCo, which was the official sponsor of the ICC World Cup, did not comment on the development.

However, a company spokesperson said its association will continue with Chennai Super Kings  for this season of IPL.

With a robust portfolio of five teams, Coca Cola will soon kick off a marketing campaign to promote the Coke brand.

“The campaign will include TV ads, out door hoardings and promotion, on ground activation and free sampling initiatives,” Basir said.

He said the company has increased its marketing spend by about 20-25 per cent compared to last year and about 25 per cent of the total spends would be made during the tournament.

Advertisements featuring cricketers from the respective teams will be launched as a part of the ongoing ‘Brrr’ campaign for Coke.

“We are creating a Brrr squad of three people for each team for Internet activation, which will become the single point of contact between the fans and teams,” Coca Cola Senior Brand Manager Abhijit Datta said.

Meanwhile, leading FMCG firm Godrej [has also launched a new marketing initiative called ‘Power Play’ with aim to cash in on from the ongoing cricket fever.

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